Taking responsibility.

buck

President Truman kept a plaque on his desk with the phrase ‘The buck stops here,” meaning it was his job to make decisions and to accept responsibility for those decisions. President Jimmy Carter pulled that plaque out of storage to keep the reminder in front of him as well.

But what does it mean? A quick Wikipedia search comes up with two possible etymologies:

The expression is said to have originated from poker, in which a marker or counter (such as a knife with a buckhorn handle during the American Frontier era) was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the “buck”, as the counter came to be called, to the next player.

Another less common but arguably less fanciful attribution is to the French expression bouc émissaire, meaning “scapegoat”, whereby passing the bouc is equivalent to passing the blame or onus.[3] The terms bouc émissaire and scapegoat both originate from an Old Testament (Lev. 16:6–10) reference to an animal that was ritually made to carry the burden of sins, after which the “buck” was sent or “passed”into the wilderness to expiate them.

So, either a refusal to take responsibility and kick the can down the road, or an intentional decision to blame someone else for your own actions. In either event, passing the buck is a refusal to take responsibility and act on it.

It can be difficult to discern what is our responsibility. One could argue we have a responsibility to fix harm we’ve caused, to prevent harm within our power to prevent, and to accept blame and credit when due. But these aren’t bright lines, and often decisions are complex and complicated by the actions and responsibilities of other players. That’s where the Serenity Prayer comes in:

 

For those things within your control, have the courage to change what you can and to do your part.

Rise up.

serenity

Life knocks us down. What helps us get back up?

It’s not about how smart we are, or who we know, or what school we went to. It’s about resilience. Our emotional IQs may be just as important, if not more important, than our actual IQs.

Our emotional intelligence is subtle:

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

And, as luck would have it, our emotional intelligence is something we can work to improve:

Unlike your IQ, your EQ is highly malleable. As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. Before long, you will begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it. And as your brain reinforces the use of new behaviors, the connections supporting old, destructive behaviors will die off.

Consider these nine habits of emotionally intelligent people:

1. They’re relentlessly positive. 
2. They have a robust emotional vocabulary.

3. They’re assertive.

4. They’re curious about other people.

5. They forgive, but they don’t forget. 
6. They won’t let anyone limit their joy.

7. They make things fun.

8. They are difficult to offend. 
9. They quash negative self-talk.

Focus on the things you can control. Don’t get lost in the negativity of things beyond your sphere of influence. Remember to stay positive and joyful.

And then get yourself back up!